MARQUETTE, Mich. - Wilma Giroux Chaillier, 94, of Marquette, walked on Monday morning, September 24, 2012, with her daughters and grandson near while in the care of Lake Superior Hospice and Brookridge Heights Assisted Living and Memory Care.
Wilma was born on May 28, 1918, at White River, South Dakota, on the Rosebud Sioux Indian Reservation. She was the daughter of the late Vern C. and Grace P. (Burnett) Giroux. Wilma attended two Indian boarding schools, the Pierre Indian School at Pierre, South Dakota, and Haskell Indian Industrial School at Lawrence, Kansas. She graduated high school at Haskell and continued her schooling there, earning a two year business degree. As a young woman, she worked in St. Louis, Missouri, and later Chicago, Illinois, where she met her husband of 61 years. She proudly served her country in the former Women's Army Corps (WAC) during World War II and in 1997 she was invited to attend the dedication of the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at Arlington National Cemetery in our nation's capitol. Wilma worked many years in various capacities for the federal government, including several decades as a civilian employee at the former K.I. Sawyer Air Force Base in Gwinn, Michigan. She retired in 1984 to care for her widowed mother at home. She was a member of St. Peter Cathedral for 55 years and served several local American Indian organizations, including the former Native Americans of Marquette County, Inc. (NAMCI) and the former American Indian Coordinating Council of Marquette. She was also a long time member of American Legion Post #44.
Throughout her life Wilma traveled back to her Rosebud Sioux Reservation in South Dakota to spend time among her many relatives and friends there. She also enjoyed numerous trips elsewhere with her family, crisscrossing the United States and Canada, along with memorable trips to Hawaii and Rome, Italy, with her husband. She passed her fondness for travel on to her daughters. Like her mother, she had a discerning eye for and appreciated American Indian arts and craft, and she was an accomplished seamstress who created many garments for her family, including square dance clothing that she and her husband wore for years when they danced. Wilma enjoyed attending local powwows and indigenous peoples' get-togethers, and she followed the athletic games of the New York Yankees on the radio early on, and later in life, the Detroit Tigers and the Green Bay Packers on television. Like her father, she took pleasure in reading the western novels of Louis L'Amour and Zane Grey.
Wilma Giroux Chaillier
Wilma was married to Wilbert R. Chaillier who preceded her in death on March 28, 2012. She is survived by their two daughters, Grace C. Chaillier and Mary P. Henson, both of Marquette, one grandson, Charles (Sabrina) Henson, also of Marquette, and nieces and nephews. Wilma was preceded in death by her much-loved granddaughter and often companion, Amanda Lynn Henson, and by her only sibling, a dear younger brother, Clyde (Bud) Giroux.
Her family will honor Wilma's life with friends and relations in the Bishop's Room located at St. Peter Cathedral on Friday, September 28, from 11:30 a.m. until 1:00 p.m. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 1:00 p.m. Friday afternoon in the cathedral. Rite of Committal will take place in the family's plot at the Holy Cross Cemetery.
Wilma's family is thankful for the care that she received while a resident at Brookridge Heights. They are also deeply grateful for the many thoughtful caregivers at Lake Superior Hospice who helped ease Wilma's last days. They respectfully suggest that anyone wishing to make an expression of sympathy please consider doing so in Wilma's name to Lake Superior Hospice at The Fassbender Funeral Home is serving the family, where condolences may be expressed online at www.fassbenderfuneralhome.com